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31 posts from February 2013

February 28, 2013

UF's Josh Evans has ties inside the Dolphins

I made the point in the last post that the Dolphins should know the kids coming out of the University of Miami and Florida International University better than any other team because of the proximity of those two schools. Well, throw in the University of Florida and Florida State, too.

Years ago, the Patriots had a great in at Florida because New England coach Bill Belichick and Gators coach Urban Meyer (now at Ohio St.) are great friends.

But the Dolphins are not without ties to the UF program and players. One player in particular to watch is safety Josh Evans.

He wrote an eloquent combine diary for onlygators.com and I suggest you check out the entire piece.

Basically, Evans met with the entire Dolphins coaching staff at the combine. (He also met with Washington, San Francisco, Tampa and Dallas among others.)

What stood out about Miami's meet is that Evans has a great connection with Dolphins assistant DB coach Blue Adams. Adams recruited Evans out of high school for Purdue.

"It was funny to meet up again because we had a great relationship when I was in high school," Evans tells onlygators.com. "When I was coming up, he showed me a lot of love, and now to see him on the professional level there is a sort of comfort to know this guy actually knows who I am. He knows my character, knows I’m not a problem child and knows I’m someone who is striving to be successful in life."

That's excellent news as one hopes Adams will expand on his relationship when discussing him within the Dolphins facility.

Evans was something of a disappointment in the 40 at the combine, running 4.58. But he has a reason: He tweaked a hamstring prior to the run. He'll get another chance at the Florida Pro Day.

If you are wondering why all the coverage of safeties lately, you should understand that is an area of need for Miami. Chris Clemons is an unrestricted free agent. If he doesn't that is a hole for Miami. But even if he does, which I expect, the Dolphins have no real depth at the position.

They had to sign Tyrone Culver late last season to be the backup when they really had no plans of bringing him back when training camp closed and he was cut.

The need doesn't rise to the first-round status, but it will be a discussion later on. Evans might be a fit. And by the way, Evans is training in Boca. That's really close to the Dolphins' training facility.

Dolphins must know Cyprien better than anyone

One of the defensive back draft prospects that caught the eye of many so-called gurus and experts the past month following the Senior Bowl and Indianapolis Combine is Florida International University's Jonathan Cyprien.

Here's hoping he has the attention of the Dolphins.

No, I'm not saying the Dolphins should draft Cyprien. I've never seen him play in person and have questions about him being even a third-round pick. I'm thinking fourth or fifth based on what I know.

But I hope the Dolphins do their homework on this guy because, well, it is embarrassing or should be when guys who played two, three, four years a few miles from where the Dolphins conduct business go to other NFL teams and succeed.

It suggests the Dolphins are asleep about guys that are right under their noses.

Doesn't happen, you say?

Let me share a couple of names:

Jimmy Graham.

T.Y. Hilton.

Sam Shields.

These guys played either at FIU or the University of Miami. And all were either mid-round picks or, in the case of Shields, not drafted at all.

Yet in each case, other teams valued the players more than the Dolphins. It suggests other teams knew more about the local players and had a greater conviction about them than the Dolphins.

Even when the Dolphins had those players playing a automobile ride away. Even when the Dolphins had the added advantage of being able to bring those players to their camp for "local" visits while other team would have had to bring them in as part of their more valuable "top 30" visits.

That's bothersome.

And as Cyprien is one of the few locals  coming out of either FIU or UM this year, I sincerely hope the Dolphins really, truly grind on his tape and workout and interviews and history.

Again, I've not seen Cyprien play in person. But FIU beat reporter David J. Neal has the past two years. This is his breakdown on the player:

"Good size with a  powerful neck and upper body makes him a boon in run support and why he can play strong safety as well as free. His speed to the ball is deceptively good,  whether playing the run or the pass. He loves contact, which you want even in today’s NFL, but he sometimes seeks it out too readily. Play-action and a little  shiftiness in a receiver or set victimizes him. But especially in the short zones, he’ll anticipate the play and get there with a shot at the  interception.

"He’s a natural  leader and a salt of the earth kind of guy you don’t have to worry about hearing  from at 3 a.m. unless he’s pulling a teammate out of trouble. That Cyprien’s direction and leadership often seemed to fall on clogged ears last season is one  reason FIU’s defense had an Open End Zone policy during the first eight  games."

All this suggests Cyprien should be a keeper in the NFL. For the Dolphins, who might need safety help, the marching orders should be to know more about him than any other NFL team.

Because he played just down the road.

February 27, 2013

Vontae Davis gets Sean Smith, self in hot water

We all know Sean Smith is eager to test the free agent market. He's going to have suitors.

But none of the contact that will happen starting March 9 when pending free agents are allowed to speak with all clubs is supposed to be happening yet. If it is happening, it is tampering.

That, of course, happens all the time but is rarely proven.

Well, if you believe former Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis, there is tampering afoot relative to Sean Smith.

"I seen my dude Sean Smith last night he said he talking to KC him & B Flowers will makes (sic) a good Duo," Davis tweeted in the last 20 minutes.

Whaaat?

It suggests Smith is talking to an NFL team when he shouldn't be -- specifically the Kansas City Chiefs. It is coming from a close -- albeit ridiculously dumb -- friend of the Dolphins cornerback. And a storm could be on the way over the matter if the NFL chooses to pursue it.

For the record, I tweeted agent David Canter, who represents Smith, to see if the tampering allegation is true.

"Don’t believe everything players tell you Armando. Rule number 1 of football journalism," he replied.

Well, I think I'm pretty versed in journalism and that isn't Rule 1. Rule 1 is get it straight from the horse's mouth and get it on the record.

This comes from Davis's mouth as his account is verified. And I believe he simply slipped. That's neither here nor there. So I asked Canter if he is saying Davis is lying?

"I say clients haven’t ever spoken to teams prior to free agency so his statement isn’t true," Canter replied.

I believe Canter. I believe Sean Smith probably hasn't spoken to the Chiefs. But notice he didn't say he hadn't spoken to the Chiefs on Smith's behalf.

Here's an interesting twist: Moments after I retweeted Davis's tweet and sought out Canter, the former Dolphins cornerback tweeted that his account had been hacked.

"My Twitter was Hack I did not see Sean Smith last night!!" he wrote in his own inimitable style for the language.

That's possible. And it's also possible Davis is doing damage control because he was informed he'd just uncovered his good friend.

I will be seeking comment from the Dolphins on this matter. They probably will have none. They are, however, aware of the issue.

[Update: The Miami Dolphins have no comment.]

[Update: Smith denied on twitter he met with the Chiefs. "Whoa, no I didn't."  he tweeted. Then he added: "OK, this is getting out of hand. I've never talked to any other team besides the Miami Dolphins."]

[Update: Smith also said he did speak with former Dolphins coach now KC DB coach Al Harris recently and told Davis about that and that Davis misunderstood somehow that it meant Smith is talking to the Chiefs.]

[Update: The Chiefs have no comment.]

Again, the denials never mention whether Smith's agent talked to the Chiefs.

The NFL has no comment but it does, according to Herald beat reporter Adam Beasley, investigate allegations of tampering, regardless of whether the offended team files a complaint or not. The NFL does prefer a complaint be filled.

Meanwhile, Davis comes off as initially transparent but not necessarily intelligent relative to outing his friend and then his backtracking.

[Update: Smith now is basically conceding that Davis lied about having his account hacked. "He panicked ... Not the best idea but I appreciate it tho."]

[Update: And now Sean Smith has blocked me on twitter. These guys are brilliant.]

Canter has a spill he has to clean up.

And now we shall wait to see if Sean Smith signs eventually with the Kansas City Chiefs or perhaps the Philadelphia Eagles, with whom Canter met (for undisclosed reasons) during the Indianapolis combine.

Reggie Bush to Lions a possibility

Last week the Dolphins reached out to Reggie Bush about contract talks for the first time -- including the 2012 season -- but while both parties were talking, they both might have been glancing at other possibilities as well.

You know the Dolphins have options what with free agency, the draft, and, of course, the fact Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Marcus Thigpen and Jonas Gray are still on the team. And Miller is a favorite of the personnel department.

But Bush apparently has options as well.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Lions have interest in Bush as a potential free agent and that interest is "real."

The report acknowledges that Bush will be looking to at least match his 2012 salary or be close to it -- in the $5 million range. But that might not be an issue because the team's stated philosophy is, according to the paper, surrounding quarterback Matthew Stafford with talent.

"... the Lions' M.O. in recent years has been to try to surround Matthew Stafford with as much talent as possible (drafting Jahvid Best, Titus Young, Mikel Leshoure, Riley Reiff and Ryan Broyles, etc.), and that's not about to change."

I don't want to be a smartaleck, but check that list again. Seems to me the Lions philosophy has actually been to add as many weapons that don't actually contribute all that much.

Bush, meanwhile, may have other suitors as well, I'm told.

He'd like to play in New York so that opens a couple of avenues. He'd like to play for a winner, which might include the Falcons in the mix.

But at $5 million a year? His agent Joel Segal is a genius if he gets it.

February 26, 2013

The official 40 times for the defensive backs

You saw what the unofficial times were for the defensive backs in the last post. Now for the official combine 40-yard dash times for the defensive backs:

Cornerbacks:

Johnthan Banks, Miss. St. 4.61

Dee Milliner, Alabama      4.37

Brandon McGee, UM         4.40

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU       4.50

Terry Hawthorne, Ill.      4.44

Sanders Commings UGA   4.41

David Amerson, NC ST.    4.44

Robert Alford, So. La.     4.39

Johnny Adams, Mich. St. 4.48

Xavier Rhodes, FSU         4.43

Darius Slay, Miss. St.       4.36

Jamar Taylor, Boise St.   4.39

Desmond Trufant, Wash.  4.38

Steve Williams, Cal.        4.42

Safeties

Matt Elam, UF               4.54

Eric Reid, LSU               4.53

Kenny Vaccaro, Tex.      4.63

Shamarko Thomas, Syr.  4.42

Earl Wolff, NC. St.         4.44

You'll notice the official times vary from the unofficial times. Indeed, the unofficial numbers were supplied to the NFL Network, which is inside the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, by former NFL GM Charley Casserly. Those are his hand times.

The official times are the ones that count. And the numbers above are the fastest a player posted.

Now, you are aware I'm not a huge fan of 40-yard dast times relative to a player's ability to actually play football. I want football players, not track stars.

But as defensive backs must show speed and quickness, these times are quite relevant to the job. Speed is one of the critical factors for a defensive back, as are ball skills, hands, durability, etc ...

That and the fact the Dolphins are likely to need a defensive back in the draft and need him relatively early enough so that he has a chance to start, I'm posting these players and their times whereas I didn't do that for other positions.

I'd say Vaccaro's time, and in fact his entire day, was something of a disappointment because he wasn't exactly smooth in other drills, either.

Rhodes didn't hurt himself. Banks didn't help himself and there are now questions about him. Both are still top of the second round type guys, in my opinion.

The guys that ran exceedingly fast or the ones that disappointed will cause teams to go back and re-study their tape. Banks is in that group, as are Slay, Vaccaro, Williams and Trufant -- for different reasons, of course.

Good-bye Milliner but Banks in Dolphins wheelhouse

Well, you can forget about Dee Milliner falling to the No. 12 pick in the first round. The Alabama cornerback, the best defensive back prospect in the draft, had a fine season and today put an exclamation point on his season with an excellent combine performance.

Most impressive for Milliner was his 40-yard dash time, which came in at an unofficial 4.31. [I'll update with the official time when it comes out]. All this practically guarantees Milliner will not make it out of the top 10.

"I thought I was going to run a 4.2," Milliner told the NFL Network.

Milliner struggled with his ball skills. He had trouble catching the ball. But his play at Alabama will override that. He will not participate in the Alabama Pro Day because he's about to have shoulder surgery and will be out two months so he's done until the draft.

The Dolphins have a need at cornerback but they have the No. 12 overall selection. Only way they get a chance at Milliner is to trade up.

Barring that ... bye-bye, Dee.

Today's workouts for defensive backs did, however, present other possibilities for the Dolphins later in the draft. Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks was disappointing with a 4.59 hand timed 40-yard dash. Terrible. Excellent!

Yes, it's bad for Banks because suddenly he's not the late first-round pick he might have been had he run well. But it's good for the Dolphins because he's still a good player and now he might be in their second-round wheelhouse.

Banks can still turn the speed numbers around at his Pro Day.

I like him. He's got great ball skills. He's 6-2. He likes to hit, he supports on the run. He can play off and still recover. He's simply a very solid football player.

[Update: FSU's Xavier Rhodes, another second-round possibility, turned in a 4.41 in the 40. Good. He had the same time his second attempt but seemed to tweak a hamstring. Rhodes needs to be more a go-hard all the time guy to be effective in the NFL. Motor is a question. By the way, Deion Sanders echoed that. The former FSU guy said of the other former FSU guy: "He chilled a little bit. I need to see him realy go 100. He took it easy a little bit."]

[Update:  Washington's Desmond Trufant, another second-round guy, ran a 4.31 unofficially and that ties Milliner for the fastest time. He had a 4.38 on his second run.]

The talk of the day -- at least on the NFL Network -- was the showing by red flag machine Tyrann Mathieu, the former LSU player known as the Honey Badger.

Mathieu, who didn't play in 2012 because he was kicked off the team for various offenses including at least one positive drug test, impressed with a 4.43 unofficial time in the 40-yard dash.

That's good. He needed it because earlier Mathieu had only four reps on the bench press of 225 pounds. As Mike Mayock articulated, Mathieu wasn't on a team all last year but he couldn't get in the weight room or a gym and make sure he could survive a test he knew was coming?

Raises questions about his work ethic.

Mathieu has other questions as well. He's only 5-8. That's a problem as only two starting cornerbacks in the NFL are that short.

The kid is more a special teamer and perhaps a slot cornerback. He has great, great ball skills -- perhaps the best of the class -- but again, he's the personification of (red) Flag Day.

Would I draft Mathieu?

Of course!

But not earlier than the fifth or sixth round.

A player I truly, truly like is safety Jonathan Cyprien of Florida International here in Miami. He didn't run the 40 due to a hamstring injury. He did the drills. He was good, not great.

Keep an eye on him. He's likely a second round pick as well and the Dolphins could use a safety upgrade, particularly with Chris Clemons being a free agent.

[Update: Kenny Vaccaro, who some draft gurus have him in the first round and even as high as No. 12, ran a disappointing 4.59 on his first attempt. And then it got worse on his second attempt at 4.63. He'll have a chance to improve on that. Vaccaro plays faster than that because he takes great angles and is very, very smart. But ...]

[Update: CB Steve Williams of Cal just turned in the fastest unofficial time for the DBs at 4.25. He ran a 4.34 on his second attempt. I can see personnel men around the NFL saying they need to go back to the tape of this prospect.]

All these times are unofficial so check back for the official times.

Patterson talked to media and Dolphins at Indy

And while we're on the topic of wide receivers, both coming out of college and in free agency, let me address Cordarrelle Patterson here.

While at the Indianapolis combine he met with the Dolphins. He's living in South Florida now.

The Dolphins need a big-play wide receiver. Patterson runs like a deer and has shown ability to get deep. General manager Jeff Ireland loves big wide receivers. Patterson is 6-2 and 215 pounds.

Do you get all the connections?

I get it, too. It kind of makes sense for a team with the No. 12 overall selection that perhaps Patterson is a fit in so many different ways.

But I cannot tell you I love the kid at No. 12. He's not Julio Jones, although he says that is who he patterns himself after. He's not A.J. Green, either. He reminds more of Darrius Heyward-Bey or Kenny Britt. He's also very raw.

There is another thing: Patterson went the junior college route before going to Tennessee in 2012. Why? Well, Patterson struggled to keep up academically at times. Thus there are questions about how quickly Patterson will recognize coverages and learn plays and adjustments in the NFL.

The Dolphins run a fairly complex offensive system and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman last year had no compunction about leaving behind young players that didn't learn quickly and play fast enough as a result of the uncertainty in their heads. Tight end Michael Egnew comes to mind.

Even veteran Jabar Gaffney struggled to pick up Miami's system.

Well, it could be argued, Patterson learned quickly enough at Tennessee to burst on the scene quickly. But that isn't completely correct. He was expected to be the Vols third WR but was actually thrust into greater playing time out of necessity when teammate Da'Rick Rogers was kicked off the team.

There are also questions about Patterson being a one-year flash rather than a consistent performer.

Anyway, Patterson spoke to the media at the combine. This is how it went:

(On path to Indy): "It was a good path, man. I had to go to junior college and ended up at Tennessee.
I wouldn’t change it for nothing. Everyplace I went, I enjoyed every second of it."

(On whether JUCO in Hutchinson, Kansas was tough): "Oh, yeah, there were a lot of times I doubted because I had to leave high school and go all the way to Hutchinson in Kansas. I would call my mom every day and ask her if she still thought I needed to do this and she said, ‘Yeah, it’s been your
dream for a long time so just make sure you stick with it."

(On the season at Tennessee): "I wanted to go in and try to be the best at my position and hope my dream would come true and be in the NFL."

(On whether he can help himself at the Combine): "Go in Saturday and Sunday and give it my best and make sure I do everything right so teams can look at me and say good things about myself."

(On whether you need a big week to go in the first round): "I know I can help myself a lot. I know what I can do. I’m going to go in and just give it my all."

(On whether he patterns himself after any receiver?): "Yeah, Julio Jones."

(On people saying you’re a one-year wonder): "I didn’t expect to be a one-year-and-done but we had the coaching change and everything was getting a little crazy, so I wanted to get out of there."

(Name three strengths): "Speed, catching and scoring."

(On expectations for NFL): "The things I did in college, I expect to come in as a rookie and be a good rookie and be a Pro Bowler."

(On experts saying he's raw): "I don’t listen to anything anyone says about my ability. God gave it to me and I go out every day and practice hard at practice, and in the games I expect big things out of myself."

(On going to the Dolphins): "I haven’t talked to them like that but I have a meeting set with them later on today. Miami is my home and I’ll do whatever I have to do."

(On being the No. 1 WR drafted): "I really didn’t even think like that. There’s rumors coming around that I can be and I hope this weekend I can show that I can be that No. 1 receiver."

(On possibly going to Carolina): "My mama, she talks about that all the time. If I could be that close to home, I know she’d be at every game possible. When I was little, I used to always think about playing for the Panthers. If that dream comes true, then it comes true."

(On what he must improve): "My route-running and learning coverages, just getting better at that."

(On expecting to be good as a junior at UT): "I didn’t, because when I went to Tennessee, I didn’t even think I was going to be a starter. But then I went in and some things happened at Tennessee and people started expecting big things from me, so I had to fill that role."

(On whether he's a top 10 player): "I say I’m a top-15 pick but I can’t control what coaches think and they’re the ones that make the decisions. If they see me in the top 15, top 10, then I respect that because I think I am."

February 25, 2013

The back and forth on Jennings, Finley in Green Bay

Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No.

Enough!

As free agency inches closer by the day, as the NFL combine winds down this week, as a negotiating window between free agents and teams opens March 9, the back and forth on what previously seemed certain gets more convoluted.

This applies specifically to the situation in Green Bay surrounding wide receiver Greg Jennings and tight end Jermichael Finley.

Let me address Finley first:

Remember that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal reported in mid December the Packers had decided to part ways with Finley after the season. The reason for this divorce was said to be Finley's dropped passes, inconsistent production and a little bit of an attitude toward his work and place on the team.

Well, over the weekend the same newspaper, indeed the same reporter, reported  the certainty of December has become muddled in February. Yes. No. Yes. No.

Apparently, the team is "torn" whether or not to get rid of Finley -- most likely by simply cutting him.

So that, by definition means he might stay. So that, by definition means we will have wasted many minutes, words and brain cells on this topic. For nothing.

Bottom line here is Finley might remain with his team even as many Dolphins fans considered him a possibility for their team.

(You remember the post I put up a few days ago about how fans and media often react faster than the teams relative to rumors of players becoming available? Now you see why teams take a more systematic approach.)

So Finley might not be available.

The Packers, meanwhile, are not denying the rumor that Greg Jennings, a couple of weeks from hitting free agency and an almost certain target of the Dolphins, might be franchised.

That rumor was floated over the weekend by The NFL Network.

And Green Bay GM Ted Thompson, who once interviewed to be Miami's GM although he didn't get the gig, didn't dispel the rumor in any way.

"We think it’s a good way to manage the NFL if you’re able to retain your own players," Thompson said at the NFL combine, "We’d very much like to do that, and that includes Greg."

So the player who was certain to hit free agency now might be franchised. Yes. No. Yes. No.

Of course, this begs the question: Why?

The Packers clearly are not in a cap position to invest the approximate $10.4 million cap hit on Jennings it would cost. They have talent at wide receiver. Jennings is coming off an injury-filled season. And he's going to be 30 years old.

So he's the franchise tag target?

Well, there's this theory from yours truly:

Perhaps the Packers are fully aware there will be interest in Jennings, including from the Dolphins and want to somehow work in a way to get something in return for the player. The only way to do that is to tag him and then let another team work out a trade for the player and sign him to a new deal.

Why is this possible?

Well, the Packers might want to get, say, a fifth-round pick out of the deal. And a team that knows it will be chasing Jennings might not mind giving up such a pick in exchange for the certainty of getting the player in trade rather than fishing for him in unrestricted free agency.

That alone might convince the Packers to tag Jennings, if only temporarily.

There's also the possibility the Packers simply don't want to lose a good player but also don't want to commit to him long-term because of his age and recent injury history. So a one-year franchise tag keeps him in Green Bay but doesn't commit the team to the major guaranteed money Jennings is seeking.

Both are possible.

By the way, the same newspaper and again the same reporter that reported the back and forth on Finley today tweeted that Joe Philbin isn't a huge fan of Jennings. I buy that. But that's because I don't think Philbin is a "huge fan" of many players. He's frankly a cup of coffee short of a coma. The guy doesn't get too high about anyone. And he doesn't get too low about anyone.

He simply is ... steady.

He's not jumping on tables for anybody.

The Dolphins plan to talk to Jennings at this point. That has not changed.

Now, you want my opinion on this Jennings matter? If not, you are finished. Go to the comments section. If so, read on.

Opinion:

I don't think the Packers are going to tag Jennings because 1. They can't spare that kind of cap space. 2. They don't usually play games like that. 3. Having Jennings at over $10 million in 2013 would mean he's making more than quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is scheduled to make $9.25 million, and that is not good for your cap structure.

Remember we had this very discussion last year with Matt Flynn. Would the Packers tag Flynn to get something, anything for him before he hit free agency? Ultimately, the team didn't tag Flynn.

Jennings may obviously be a different case. But I don't see Thompson as being a different person. Just a guess.

I suppose the point of all this is we don't have certainty on Jennings or Finley. Two months ago Finley was off the Packers. Now, he's possibly on the Packers. A month ago, Jennings was done in Green Bay. Now, he might get tagged.

Yes. No. Yes. No. 

Tavon Austin a combine star but not a fit at No. 12

Me and some of my followers on twitter [Yeah, terrible grammar] got into a bit of a spat Sunday afternoon because I believe NFL teams are best served drafting football players and they apparently are enthralled with the idea of drafting 40-yard dash times.

And so we have a minor disagreement on Tavon Austin, the West Virginia speedster.

Austin is a sprite. He ran a 4.34 official time at the combine Sunday and, I admit, he was a fine playmaker at West Virginia last year.

Austin also came to the combine with his confidence at full throat as he told the media in a press conference "“Pound for pound I am the best all-around player in the NFL Draft."

Well, I don't see the best pound for pound player in the draft as a value as a Top 10 pick, as some fans are suggesting and not even a No. 12 pick where the Dolphins will select in the first round of next April's draft.

Yes, Austin has the stats. (I love guys with the production). Yes, he has the speed. (I love speed). But he's tiny at 5-9 and 178 pounds. (I don't love guys that size at No. 12).

Yes, I would love Austin on my team. Yes, I would take him in the second round.

But in the first? At No. 12?

No thanks.

I don't take guys shorter than some girls I once dated at No. 12. 

Again, I really love Austin as a player but I simply don't see the value in him that high.

Why?

Well, when you measure a player's critical factors one thing you must measure is durability. And I'm not sure a player that smallish who will be asked to go into the teeth of a defense as a slot player will be durable enough to answer the call every Sunday.

And you hence must add that worry to the usual ones about whether he can adjust to your system, and whether he's got the instincts, and can deal with the speed of the game and can handle his business off the field.

Again, that doesn't mean I don't respect Austin's talents. He can be electric on the field. What he did to Oklahoma last year was jaw-dropping.

But there have been other grand talents come into the NFL in small packages and struggle because of their size -- Bob Sanders comes to mind. He was amazing for a couple of years and then the fact he was crashing into men who were bigger and outweighed him by 40 to 100 pounds caught up with him.

You have to find a great balance with talents such as Austin's to make a thoughtful decision on where he should be drafted. Maybe he's going to be a fine player like Darren Sproles. Well, Sproles was drafted in the fourth round.

Maybe he's going to a "matchup nightmare," as NFL Network's Mike Mayock said, playing the slot receiver position. Maybe he's going to be like Wes Welker. Well, Welker went undrafted.

Maybe he'll play forever like another smallish but freakishly fast player -- cornerback Darrell Green -- did for the Washington Redskins years ago. Well, maybe, but Green was drafted at the bottom of the first round, not near the top.

Do you see the point?

If the Dolphins fall in love with Austin I would expect them to show that love after a major trade-down from No. 12. Or maybe with a second round pick.

But even this comes with a warning:

Miami GM Jeff Ireland comes from the general manager school of prototypical players. He was taught by his mentor Bill Parcells to pick prototype players that have the height, weight and look the part of bigtime NFL players. That school of thought leaves little room for dumplings like Austin.

For Ireland to consider Austin in any round would be a departure from what he's been taught.

And even if the Miami GM can loose himself from the bonds of his mentor, in my humble opinion, for Ireland to consider Austin at No. 12 would be a mistake.

 

February 24, 2013

Sean Smith has suitors but will he stay hungry?

Yes, there is tampering at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. What else does one expect when you gather agents of looming NFL free agent players and team personnel department people in one town for several days?

And that is assuredly at the root of a report out of csnphilly.com stating that the Eagles "would like to address their shaky secondary by considering Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith, according to a person with knowledge of the team’s free-agent strategy."

So, if the report is accurate, Smith will have at least one suitor unless he re-signs with the Dolphins when free agency begins March 12.

But ...

The key issue in the report is price. The report states the Eagles will be "leery of engaging in a bidding war that inflates the price tag."

Well, that puts them in the same position as the Dolphins.

The Dolphins have always been eager to keep Smith. That is not the issue. He's a solid player. But price is the issue.

As I've reported since December, Smith wants $8-$10 million per season and he wants considerable guaranteed money. The Dolphins and I dare say many teams, but primarily the Dolphins because they know Smith best, are wary of paying Smith major guaranteed money because they aren't 100 percent certain how he'll react to that boon.

Will he continue to push to improve?

Will he continue to be inconsistent?

Or will he get comfortable or complacent and feel a sense of entitlement.

I assume Smith would dispel that concern. But it doesn't mean it would go away. Remember that after starting all the games his rookie season, Smith showed serious signs of entitlement his second season (2010) and was actually benched for parts of that season in favor of Jason Allen.

It wasn't until that benching snapped him out of that feeling that he'd arrived did he return to his previous work ethic and level of play. Then he regained his job.

So the issue here is not what teams will be interested in Sean Smith. I assume many will, including the Dolphins.

The issue is which will be willing to pay him major guaranteed money without fear he'll stay hungry.

February 22, 2013

Dolphins talk contract with Bush's representation

It's been an on-going drama (among fans) this offseason whether the Dolphins want running back Reggie Bush back or not. And part of the narrative is that the team has not shown Bush any love because they didn't offer the former Heisman Trophy winner a contract during the season or even in the weeks after the season.

Guess what?

In the last week the Dolphins and Bush's agent Joel Segal discussed a deal for Bush.

So there is interest by the Dolphins to retain Bush.

But how intense is that interest?

As I have reported and is apparently confirmed by Miami's approach, the Dolphins have a price set for Bush. The team wants Bush. But the Dolphins want Bush at their price.

What does that mean?

It means the Dolphins are comfortable with the idea of having Lamar Miller take the reins as the lead back. Bush, according to general manager Jeff Ireland, is seemingly more suited to a third-down spot or some role slotted as a receiver.

"You’d love to have his skill set on the football team," Ireland said. "I mean Reggie has a unique set of skill sets.  He’s been a receiver, he’s been a primary running back.  So I definitely see a role for that type of skill set."

How Bush would be used exactly is a coaching question. Whether he'll be available to be used is a personnel question and on that front the personnel department's price point for Bush doesn't seem to quite rise to the $5 million per year Bush has been averaging the past couple of seasons -- not when he's not certain of being the lead back.

Bush, meanwhile, obviously wants a raise.

So where does that leave everyone?

Well, the Dolphins are interested in Bush. To a degree. His representation is interested in getting Bush back to Miami -- but only if the price is right for them.

Seems they have more talking to do or will need the market to help set parameters for Bush's next deal.

February 21, 2013

The Jeff Ireland press conference right here

As you know, Jeff Ireland spoke to the media today. It'll be the last time he speaks to the media until free agency.

This is everything he said:

(On if having so many picks in the draft changes his approach to the combine) – “It doesn’t change too much, we brought every single person in the building. So we have eyes on every single player at the combine, we brought 55 personnel and coaches to the Combine, so we’ve got a lot of eyes on a lot of different guys so it really doesn’t change the process. We are trying to prioritize who we are looking at, what we are looking at, this is an information gathering process. No firm decisions are made during this time period, we are just gathering all the information in and then we will start analyzing it as the information comes in.”

(On philosophy with the 12th pick, fill a need or best player available, in the 2013 Draft) -  “Its early in the process, but we are going to try to, that’s obviously the first goal you would like to take the best player available, but it depends on what you do in free agency, it depends on some of your needs and depends on what’s there when you take the pick.”

(On taking a player when ‘public perception’ may think it’s a reach) – “Well if history repeats itself, I really don’t care what the public perception is. I care about what my scouts say and what my eyes are telling me. So we have our own evaluations that we go into and sometimes you have a need there, sometimes you have the grade and they have to marry to each other when they do you take the player.”

(On if this a do or die or make or break off season for the Dolphins) – “I would probably say neither of those, I think it’s a very, very important time period for this off-season. We have put a lot into getting into this position, so obviously we are in a position by design and so we plan to use some of the money and plan to draft the best players available if we can and try to address some of the needs and musts that we have on our football team.”

(On how important it is to resign Brian Hartline) – “Well in terms of our free agents, were going to address every player that is a free agent. As it relates to anyone in particular, I am not going to discuss how our negotiations are going at this point, but it is important to get the guys that we are trying to get back, it’s important to get those guys done certainly before the (March) 8th, no doubt about it.”

(On his opinion of the franchise tag and the likelihood of the team using it in 2013) – “Well it’s a resource certainly, and you have to evaluate how negotiations are going with certain particular players, but there are a lot of things that go into the franchise tag. A lot of different opinions, a lot of different aspects of when you use it when you don’t use it, why you use it. So in terms of this year, there is certainly a likelihood that we could use it, but on particular who we haven’t made that decision yet.”

(On how much stock is put into what a player does at the Combine) –“I always say that if you’re doing your job your making decisions based on what they do when they have pads on and so we try to put a grade on them at the end of December and maybe at the end of February that we just got meeting on and that doesn’t change when you get the results from here you just try to analyze what they are. Certainly the higher draft choices you want the ability on the field to marry to the ability in shorts. And certainly the later draft choices in my opinion you are looking for upside so you are looking for very good athletes and some of the things like that, so you are looking for more athletic ability at least that is what I am looking for.”

(On why none of the Dolphins free agents are signed yet) – “Well we are going through a process, I don’t think that we had to get them done on the first of January or there was no date, right now the date that I have in my head is March 9th is to get those guys done before they get into that period. So we have taken on the evaluation of our coaching staff we have been very thorough in that process, finding out what fits and when you have as many of them as we do you just can’t make knee jerk reactions on certain guys and getting certain guys signed. So we have taken a very thorough evaluation, we have met on it many times so this is the time period we are starting to talk to them and get some things done.”

(On if he learned anything new about Joe Philbin that he didn’t know during the hiring process) – “Not really, Joe and I kind of hit it off from the beginning. He is very thorough, he doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low. A very highly organized, got a great thought process involved, so all those things I knew going into his first year and it’s more enhanced now that we have got better communication and we have spent more time together. I think he knows what I am about and I know a little bit more of what he is about so it has been a very good marriage at this point.”

(On if he thinks that he has a mainstay at quarterback in Ryan Tannehill) – “As I have said before, Ryan has got 35, 36 games under his belt as starting quarterback combined from a college and pro career and you would normally like to have 35 games under your belt as a graduating senior, so I think that there is a bunch of upside left in Ryan’s potential and I like what I see so far. I love his intangible makeup, I love his athletic skill set. We have a long way to go, he knows that, but he can get a lot better, I am very confident in that.”

(On how wide he sees the gap between the top team and the rest of the division) –“There is a gap, certainly they have won the division quite a bit, so we have to close that gap. To say that, I think it’s a five game gap right now in wins and losses, so that’s where the gap is. So we have to close that gap and we plan to do our best job, put our best foot forward getting that done this off-season. Now whether we can completely close the gap, we have to get back on the field and close the gap on the field, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to talk about it right now.”

(On what he got out of the Hard Knocks experience and if he would do it again) – “We sat and talked about whether or not we were going to do it or not and Joe I think made the famous statement ‘I don’t think any games are going to be won by doing it and I don’t think any games are going to be lost by doing it’, and I still feel the same way. It was a good experience, those guys are extremely professional people. The days go by and you really don’t really know that they are there, other than the fact that the guy is sitting there with a mic as soon as I open my door in my office. I enjoyed it, it was good exposure for our franchise and again NFL Films and Hard Knocks they do an outstanding job.”

(On using Ryan Tannehill mobility more going forward) – “You are asking the wrong guy, my title is General Manager not Head Coach, so I know he did some of that in college, he had some long runs. Again, I like his athletic skill set, that is one of the reasons we drafted him as high as we did. But how we use him and things like that, that is going to be up to (offensive coordinator) Mike (Sherman) and Joe (Philbin).”

(On his theory or philosophy on how he approaches ‘big-ticket’ free agents as opposed to the less expensive) –“You are always looking for value, and certainly to get production you hope that matches the value for what you are going to get. Everybody wants a bargain, and free agency, if you are going to play in free agency there are not just a ton of bargains out there especially if you are playing at the top of the market. So you just have to feel confident that what you are paying for is what you are getting, and that has always been a philosophy of mine is that the value and the production, the value and the ability and the evaluation, they match and that you are not overpaying for a lesser talented player.”

(On how he compares this year’s draft to past years in terms of difference makers) – “I think there are some difference makers, difference makers I am sure you are referring to maybe some of the skill positions players, but I look at it maybe a little bit differently. I look at difference makers in the offensive line, maybe defensive line, maybe there is a safety out there, so maybe your vision of a difference maker may not be the same. I think there is good depth in the draft, I think in our last meeting we talked about 250 players that we liked a lot, so I think that there is pretty good depth.”

(On how he brings the coaches into a process that he has been working at for months following the end of the season) – “I have always used the saying, ‘scouts help you bring the information to the bridge and without the coaches you can’t cross the bridge.  So you have to have both involved in this evaluation, period.  So again like said we brought our entire coaching staff here.  This is the first time that as General Manager I brought every single person.  Our building is empty right now so, but again, it’s a very critical period for us.  I wanted all eyes on all the players and the mental aspect of the scheme fit is important to us and so we have our coaches talk football with them so we get them involved in that regard.  I think it’s a very important aspect of things.  In terms of the final decision, I mean that’s a collective, it’s a collective process.  Joe and the coordinator and position coach on that particular player, maybe.  We’re going to sit down.  We’re going to watch them together.  If we don’t see it eye to eye then we’ll sit down and we’ll watch the tape together and in trying to get that process right.”

(On if there is any friction between the scouts and the coaches) - “I’ve never really been involved with a lot of friction.  We’re all professionals.  The scouts, we work in professional football and I expect my scouts and I expect my coaches to be professionals in their regard.  No we live in a world where we’re paid for an opinion and so you’re going to have an opinion and you’re going to have an opinion and they don’t always mesh, they don’t always marry.  You like it when they do.  Quite frankly I like when they don’t.  But it creates more debate involved in that and debate is problem solving and that’s ultimately what the head coach and the GM are interested in, charged with as solving problems.”

(On the new aptitude test that is being administered) -“I really don’t know a whole lot about it and they have not given us a lot of information about it, so they’re just going to give us the results and how its being tested. I’m sure it’s early and new and so we’re going to get into it a little bit more.”

(On what the Wonderlic was not providing) -“It’s been used quite a bit and I think there’s maybe some concern that maybe people outside the combine are getting a hold of it possibly.”

(On CBA and the salary cap roll over) - “Well we’ve got good cap space so I like it.  So right now I do anyway. I think that it’s been a positive thing for us.  Being able to, what you don’t spend (is that what you’re talking about.  What you don’t spend in one year you can roll back over the next year?)  I think it’s good because certain things, you know, certain players you’re trying to get done maybe in the current year, you can’t get that person done so you’re going to use that money to do him next year.  So you don’t want that money to go away.  You want to be able to use that process.  And now with the cap not going up is, maybe the 7% and I think teams need all the dollars.”

(On if there is a percentage that he has in mind for his current free agents as well as going after other free agents) -  “I haven’t necessarily look at from a percentage stand point.  We know the guys we want back on our team and we know the guys that we’re going to potentially go after in the market so we’ll maybe analyze it, maybe a little bit different than that.  Right now I think the plan is, it’s a strong plan to try to do a little bit of both and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

(On teams taking a chance on a talented player with character questions) – “Well character and makeup, I’ve talked a lot about it.  Always talked a lot about it, it’s been  part of my philosophy since I was in Dallas.  I certainly like guys that are highly competitive, that can learn.  They’re dependable.  Highly passionate about football.  So that’s always going to be a part of my process of player procurement process and Joe certainly wants those dependable guys in the locker room.  Look, we’re not, there’s going to be guys on our football team that are going to make mistakes and we’re aware of that.  You know moving forward those decisions that were in the past, those weren’t all just character.  There were some other things involved that which I’m not going to get into.  But I’m proud of the team that we’ve assembled.  I’ve got a great, strong locker room.  I think that’s, you it’s youthful, and I think that gives you the best opportunity when you have a good locker room, with good chemistry to continue to grow as a group.”

(On how important it is to bring back players from a continuity standpoint) - “Well I think it’s important to bring back key members of it.  Again, it’s going to be their choice too.  Well they want to come back but it’s a process involved.  And we’re going to try to bring back the guys that we feel like are necessary to bring back to continue moving in the right direction.”

(On if he looks at what guys do with their Twitter feeds) - “It’s something new, for sure.  And I’m not very good at it but I know I have guys on my staff that are very good at it and they follow it and they look at it.  I don’t know how much of the evaluation process that it’s taking in.  Again it’s more information in what they’re saying and maybe there’s a sense of maturity that goes along with being a heavy twitterer, is that right language, heavy twitterer.  My guys on my staff are very good at it.  They follow a lot of college athletes and I think it’s going to be a little bit bigger process as we move forward.”

(On when he started putting more emphasis on Twitter and Social Media) - “Might have been in the last two years for sure that we spent some time talking about it but more or less it’s on the individual scout to really to grind in to what they’re saying and you know we don’t actually pull up their twitter page or anything in a meeting aspect but the individual scout or the national scout or may be even the college director may bring a snippet of information to the process.”

(On if there’s an obligation to sign a big name, high priced free agent) - “You know we’re just trying to help our football team move in the right direction.  I don’t really feel the pressure there has to be a name guy.  If that particular player we thinks going to help our football team move forward and take a big step then if he has a big name, great.  If he helps our football team that’s our first and foremost primary reason why we’re signing the player.”

(On the 3 day window going to change what he does as a team) - “You know I don’t exactly how it’s going to change things.  I don’t know that there’s going to be a lot done in the first 24 hours of that time period.  That’s just a guess.  Some of the bulk of what we can get done needs to happen before that time and so that’s what we’re trying to get done and then that 3 day window is going to be, it’s obviously going to be competitive because of that openness of negotiating.  So but exactly how it’s going to change things I’m not exactly sure yet.”

(On if the first day of the negotiating period is now replacing the first day of free agency) - “Yeah, you could look at it that way.  I mean, you know, you can now exchange papers but you can’t bring the player in.  But then there’s three days of that.  So whatever you give to an agent in the first 24 hours you’ve got 48 hours left to continue doing your work.  So, it’s a sketchy.”

(On if there is a role for Reggie Bush on this team) - “Certainly, certainly, certainly would.  You’d love to have his skill set on the football team.  I mean Reggie has a unique set of skill sets.  He’s been a receiver, he’s been a primary running back.  So I definitely see a role for that type of skill set.”

(On if it’s realistic for Reggie Bush to be an every down back on this team) - “Again, you’re asking the wrong guy for that. That’s a coaching question.”

(On him having to make the contract commitment) -“Yes.   Absolutely.  So we know again, we’ll just have to see how things go.  We’ve got a couple of more days of talking to our own guys and we’ll see how that goes.”

(On Jake Long saying it’s up to the Dolphins now if he would be back) - “Well, you know we’ve talked with Jake.  We’ve talked with his representative as well.  We’ve made our desire to have him back on this football team known.  But that’s a tricky one as I said at the Senior Bowl.  There’s a lot of different things that normally you don’t have in that particular case.  Some of the details I don’t really want to get into, to be honest with you but there’s just a complicated negotiation.  But, you know, so we’ll have to see how things go as well.  I’d love to have it back.  He’s been a pillar for our football team since the day he step on campus and I don’t see that thing changing either if he get him back.”

(On Jake Long’s injury history playing a factor in whether he comes back) - “No.  It’s just something that we look at.  I don’t want to say it’s issue.  I’'s something you look at.  We have more intimate knowledge of his health than probably anybody else so it’s something that we’re aware of.  And not something we have to get over or it’s an issue but something we know about.”

(On the tight end position and how his evaluation of the position has changed) - “No it goes back to what’s being played in college and that position that’s not primarily playing a traditional on the line of scrimmage, hand in the dirt, wide tight end as we would call it.  You got a lot of detached receiver types that fit a tight end body type and so and then then when you play a system that uses a Y in the hand traditional tight end you’re trying to sometimes project that player and projection in business is difficult.  But you don’t have to project the aspect of him being in the slot and running down the middle of the field and maybe getting open from different prospective, but you just have to make sure that player that you’re drafting from the college standpoint, where he plays, marries to the scheme that you’re playing you scheme.  Basically.”

(On the franchise tag and continuity at cornerback) -“Well I think there’s several players that are our current free agents that would be an option for the tag.  I have not ruled out Sean (Smith) as being an option there.  But again, we’ve got several more days left before we have to make that decision.  Pretty good idea where we’re going with it but things could change daily, hourly.  Continuity at the cornerback position always something you’re looking for.  So certainly Sean’s an option and maybe if we do use the tag, you know that’s for continuity reasons and then obviously you know having him back on the team would be certainly I would like to do as well.”

(On how important is having Randy Starks back) - “Well it’s very important to have Randy back if we could get it done.  I’m not really worried about where we’re playing (Jared) Odrick or the fact of the matter is we have a very good defensive line and keeping that in tack is a focus of mine.  It’s a strength, continue to build the strength is a focus of mine.  I don’t want to let that strength become just average.  I like where it’s at and keeping that a main stay is important to me.”

(On how much he would like to have Matt Moore back)  - “Well again Matt, there’s a lot of reasons why you’d want Matt back on your football team.  Matt’s been an outstanding teammate.  Been a good mentor for Ryan.  He was excellent when Chad (Henne) and him were in the room last year.  So there’s a lot of things of why you would want him back in the football team.  So, again, like every other free agent we’ve talked about there’s a process in place and you know they are all great character guys and it’s a business decision we have some tough decisions to make but again, I wish I could have them all back but I’m going to be disappointed and maybe possibly one of those guys are going to be disappointed if this doesn’t get done.”

(On bringing back experienced corners and how it affects the Sean Smith negotiations) - “We have some guys, I don’t know where you see a leverage or not, we have a guy that was injured and two guys that were injured that ended up one didn’t finish the season and one we end of claiming, Dimitri (Patterson).  So Sean started almost every single game he’s been since 2008.  Having that continuity back with Sean is important but we’ll have to see how that thing goes.”

(On talks if talks with Sean Smith have been optimistic) - “I guess optimistic.  We had a meeting the other day and I left it optimistic, but, still a long way to go with that one.”

Jeff Ireland: Use of franchise tag 'a likelihood'

There's been much talk of the Dolphins potentially using their franchise tag designation on one of their own unrestricted free agents. Well, this morning Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said that potential is quite real.

"There's certainly a likelihood we could use it," Ireland said in talking about the issue at the NFL Combine.

The Dolphins have several candidates to use it on -- Randy Starks and Jake Long among them. Several media outlets have reported Sean Smith would be tagged. I've reported he will not be tagged. Ireland addressed tagging several players as possibilities in only general terms and gave no indication which specific player he would tag if necessary.

(Understand, it makes sense for Ireland to threaten every player with the tag to induce them to sign a multi-year deal, which is more cap friendly for the Dolphins. He has no intetion on using the tag on certain players but if they are convinced it is a possibility, they might be willing to do a deal that gets them more guaranteed money but also gives the team a lower cap number. Ireland would be dumb to tip his hand and eliminate anyone from the possibility.)

Ireland was asked about the apparent slow pace of negotiations between the Dolphins and their own players. Well, Ireland says he's not been in a hurry to get deals done because he has a deadline in his head for doing that and that time is not yet.

"The date that I have in my head is March 9," Ireland said.

March 9 is the first day free agents can begin talking to teams other than the ones they played for last season. Until then, there is supposed to be no "tampering" or communication between teams and the potential free agents from other teams.

(Yeah, right.)

Anyway, Ireland says the Dolphins have formulated a plan for re-sign certain players and chasing others starting March 12 when free agency kicks off. 

"We know the guys we want back and we know the guys we will potentially go after," he said. "It's a strong plan to do a little bit of both."

The Dolphins want Jake Long back. As I've reported previously, they have made at least two contract offers. Ireland confirmed the club wants Long back after his presser.

The Dolphins are clearly moving toward Lamar Miller as their lead back next year. But Ireland suggested Reggie Bush could return (sources say only for the "right" price) and play more of a role in the passing game.

The idea is to help the Dolphins get better because they've posted records of 7-9, 7-9, 6-10, and 7-9 the past three seasons while the New England Patriots have been to two Super Bowls and the playoffs each year. The idea is to close that gap.

"There's a gap," Ireland said. "We've got to close that gap and we plan to do our best job getting that done."

The draft will follow free agency and that is perhaps more important to Miami -- a team with five picks in the first three rounds and nine picks overall.

Ireland quipped that the team brought every person in the organization to Indianapolis to get "eyes on every single player at the Combine." That's upwards of 50-plus Dolphins people in Indianapolis.

 "I think there are some difference-makers," Ireland said of the draft talent before adding he likes several offensive and defensive linemen and thinks there are good safeties available as well.

 

Injury to Milliner might be lucky for Dolphins

Sometimes it's just good to be, well, lucky.

In 2011, for instance, the Indianapolis Colts were awful and their Patron Saint Manning was seemingly done as an NFL quarterback. So they stunk. A lot. And they earned the dubious distinction of the draft's first overall selectiion.

Luckily, that stinkage happened to precede a draft in which Andrew Luck was available as the first overall pick. Stinky Colts pick Luck. Stinky Colts stop stinking and go to the playoffs in 2012.

Luck. In more ways than one.

The Dolphins have not often been so, shall we say, lucky. They had the No. 1 overall pick in 2008. No Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III in that draft. They had the second overall selection in 2005. Terrible draft. They took Ronnie Brown, who was serviceable but never a star.

Not lucky.

But on Thursday the Dolphins might have gotten a small, tiny slice of lucky.

The team that needs help at cornerback learned, as did the other 31 teams, that Dee Milliner, considered the best CB prospect in the coming draft has a torn labrum that will require surgery after the combine. The Alabama product will still work at the combine but will not participate in the Alabama Pro Day.

One of his reps told ESPN that Milliner should be ready to go for the start of training camp in July, which by the way, suggests he'll miss all the summer camps rookies typically participate in.

So why is that lucky?

Well, Milliner was expected to go in the top five picks of the draft based on his ability and team needs. But what if this injury/surgery red flag causes him to fall a bit to ... say .... to No. 12 and the Miami Dolphins?

No, there's no guarantee. Milliner runs well at the combine, team doctors suggest he can easily recover, his stock remains high. Indeed, the fact he played well with the injury last year might signal an added reason to like the kid.

Then the Dolphins will be looking at guys like Xavier Rhodes of FSU or John Banks of Mississippi State. But what if the stock slips and now Milliner is there at No. 12?

That would be lucky.

And aren't the Dolphins due for some of that?

[BLOG NOTE: GM Jeff Ireland will speak at the combine around 11:30ish today (and say nothing). But as it is the job of this blog to keep you atop the developments, circle back here to check the update on what he says.]

February 20, 2013

Chase for Wallace begins in Indianapolis

The Indianapolis Combine begins today. General Manager Jeff Ireland will speak to the media Thursday per the schedule. And so let me tell you what's about to happen:

As I reported Feb. 12 the Dolphins will get about the business of talking to Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings. As Indianapolis is the site where team personnel and agents gather, I expect the Dolphins will touch base with the representatives for both players in the coming days.

That doesn't mean the Dolphins will sign both players. It doesn't mean they'll sign either because, well, stuff happens. As I said, they'll work it with both. But it means they have a plan and both players are part of that plan. The plan has Wallace as the priority but also includes Jennings -- perhaps as a fallback position, perhaps in addition to Wallace.

It is not possible to know exactly what Ireland has in mind with Wallace and Jennings because he doesn't share that with anyone in the media. But it is certain the Dolphins will chase Wallace first. He is the priority. Then Jennings will come soon afterward.

And that brings us to this:

The story is not whether the Dolphins want or are interested in or will speak with top target Mike Wallace or his agent.

The story is whether the Dolphins can actually land Mike Wallace.

Wallace, you see, is the second biggest free agent name this Dolphins administration has chased. The biggest was last year and his name is Peyton Manning. But as the Dolphins haven't exactly been nails landing the guys they want, it is fair to wonder if they can be successful this time.

(A note here: If you're thinking back to last year and say the Dolphins chased and failed to land quarterbacks Matt Flynn or Alex Smith, I reject that idea. The team placed no "must-have" priority on either of those players. The contract offered to Flynn was only borderline starter money, more than suggesting Miami could take or leave Flynn. So Flynn took the more sure thing in Seattle. As for Smith, I'm not even sure the Dolphins offered him a contract and if they did, it definitely was not for the $8 million per year he was seeking. So again, the team wasn't all in on getting Smith. I don't see that as failures of any sort. Indeed, hindsight has shown Ireland was wise to steer clear of both.)

Now, the Dolphins did fail on Manning. They not only didn't land the biggest free agent they'e ever chased, they even failed to be among his finalists. Yes, the club managed a meeting with Manning but if you remember they had to fly to see him. Manning, meanwhile, went to Denver and other places he was truly interested in to speak with those teams. The Dolphins were in the hunt, but they were the hound way back in the pack gasping for breath and watching the lead dogs tree the game and get the big pat on the head.

(Where the heck did I come up with that analogy?)

Miami has also failed in other free agent attempts, to be sure, but one that should worry is the failed effort to land Ryan Clark. You remember Clark? He came to South Florida via Pittsburgh, apparently ready to sign a deal that would take him away from the Steelers.

He never signed. He returned to Pittsburgh.

Clark's story is that the Dolphins offended him. They told him how he was flawed and not worth a ton of money and made him feel unwanted, etc ...

The Dolphins have a different version but that version does not matter now.

The Clark version matters because he is Mike Wallace's teammate in Pittsburgh and if the wide receiver asks, that's the version he's going to hear. Facts be damned, Wallace will likely hear the Dolphins painted in a negative light. And so Miami could be swimming against that tide to convince Wallace this is the team for him.

There's also this little matter of competition. I seriously doubt the Dolphins will be the only team chasing Mike Wallace. Although his asking price will likely start around $11-$12 million, as I first reported on January 25, Wallace is likely to have other suitors.

His agent's job the next week will be to drum up interest in his client so that Wallace can have teams bid against each other. I have no idea what teams will target Wallace aside from the Dolphins. The Dolphins are projected to have the third-most salary cap space in the NFL when the league year opens March 12.

So they can afford Wallace.

But there have been rumors Cleveland and even Cincinnati might also have interest. And they happen to be the two teams with more cap space than Miami.

It must be said the Dolphins have not been inept at landing their man. In 2010, Karlos Dansby was considered the prize defensive player in free agency and the Dolphins got him straight away.

They got Jason Taylor away from the New York Jets in 2011.

(Yes, they lost Calvin Pace to the Jets in 2008 but thank God!)

So there have been hits and misses once the Dolphins have identified their targets. They identifed Wallace weeks ago.

The chase begins now.

February 19, 2013

Jake Long: Return up to the Dolphins

Jake Long's wife Jackie has been tweeting about the couple's desire to find out where they're going to be living in the coming years because they want to find out where the offensive tackle is going to be playing.

Yes, they want to stay in South Florida and Long wants to play for the Dolphins.

But they also want to get paid.

And so Long believes it is up to the Dolphins to come through. At least that's what he's saying in a phone interview with the NFL Network's Linday Rhodes.

"I'd be open to continue my career there, but it's essentially on them, see what they want to do and what direction they want to head in and go from there," Long said in the interview that will air on Total Access Tuesday evening. "That's the business side of it so we'll see what they want to do."

Obviously, the idea of Long returning to the Dolphins isn't totally on the Dolphins. The club wants Long to return. Long wants to return.

But Long wants to be paid a salary akin to the highest left tackle in football or close to it -- a status he's enjoyed most of his career. The Dolphins are not there right now. They see a player who's been injured each of the last two years and who is no longer as athletic as he was before. They are somewhat concerned he has started to break down and want to protect themselves.

The club has made Long multiple offers but no deal. I'm not getting the idea Long's side is really budging all that much, sensing it has leverage.

And so, barring a meeting of minds the next few weeks, it really is on the free agent market to determine Long's worth. The Dolphins don't love that, but will live with it. Long, meanwhile, is fine with that approach despite his recent performance and injury history.

"I'm not concerned," he said. "The last couple of years I've had some injuries I've had to work through, it hasn't been the ideal situation, but I've been working hard this offseason to get healthy and get strong. And this is the best my body has felt in a long time and I'm just excited to get a deal done and focus on football and get back to work for 2013."

For the record, Long said the same thing last year during training camp. And then he finished the year on injured reserve for the second consecutive year.

Where (if anywhere) the Miami franchise tag belongs

Monday was the first day NFL teams could designate any of their own unrestricted free agents with the Franchise tag. The Dolphins did not use the tag Monday but perhaps they might use it in coming days or weeks.

And whom the Dolphins might opt to use the Franchise tag on (if anyone) is up for debate, depending on what media outlet you subscribe to. If you subscribe to the Salguero media outlet, you don't know whether the Dolphins will use the tag or not.

But you know for certain it will not be on cornerback Sean Smith.

I've said it. Repeated it. Yelled it from the highest mountains multiple times even as other outfits are saying otherwise. Again, one last time, the Dolphins do not currently plan to use the franchise tag on Sean Smith.

Having said that, there are other options:

Jake Long.

Randy Starks.

Brian Hartline.

Reggie Bush.

Chris Clemons.

Okay, so there are options but only one or two are even within the realm of logic and only one seems financially feasible.

It's not Brian Hartline. Why pay him $10.3 million guaranteed for one year when you can get him right now for $18 million over three years and maybe less? It's not Reggie Bush. The Dolphins are in take-it-or-leave-it mode with Bush. He'll be able to sign with Miami at a bargain or test the market -- up to him.

Chris Clemons, meanwhile, would be cheaper to get in a multi-year deal but if not, the draft has plenty of good safeties.

Jake Long? How many times do we have to go over this? The Dolphins want him. And he wants to play for Miami. But he also wants a truckload of cash while the Dolphins want to minimize the risk of paying him big money and getting an injury-prone, diminishing player in return. Yes, that is the reason signing him to a one-year deal is borderline logical. It keeps him in Miami's uniform. It does not create another need for the team.

But it costs. Tag rules say a player must pay the average of the top 10 salaries at a position or 120 percent of the player's final contract year salary, whichever is higher. For Long that means 120 percent of $12.8 million cap number from 2012. That means Miami would have to commit $15.36 million to Long and knock that amount off its salary cap space.

The Dolphins can afford it. They have more salary cap space saved for the start of the 2013 league year than every NFL team save the Bengals and Cleveland Browns. (Wow, that's an amazing sentence to write.)

The Dolphins have approximately $44.9 million, barring signing of their own free agents.

But are the Dolphins willing to use around 29 percent of the cap space they've worked to save on Jake Long? In a year offensive tackles are plentiful in the draft and free agency? That would be a hard pill to swallow. And what if that glut of talent on the market drives the price down on Long? It's a good bet the team might want to take.

That brings us to Starks. He would cost the Dolphins approximately $8.3 million to franchise. Yes, that is also a steep, steep number. But consider that Miami tagged Paul Soliai two years ago for $12 million and it seems like something of a bargain.

Starks is a more complete player than Soliai and more decorated because he's been to the Pro Bowl two of the last three years and at two different positions. He's not a player the Dolphins should want to lose.

But when you consider Starks wants around $8-$10 million per year on a long-term deal, paying the low end of that for one year seems plausible when you also consider everything.

What are the considerations? Well, Starks did fade at the end of the season. It was probably partically due to the fact he missed multiple weeks of practice and was troubled personally by the passing of a loved one, but there's no surety in that. It could also be something else. Starks also will be 30 this coming season. That's around the time some interior line players start to fight injuries.

So if the Dolphins are unsure about Starks' age, if they are worried about his late-season drop in productivity but are also concerned about losing a valuable player to free agency and adding another item to their list of needs, then they might have to seriously consider the franchise tag.

The tag keeps Starks in Miami. It is used on a good player. It is used to protect the team against losing a player but also against committing too long a contract to that player.

Things to consider.

February 18, 2013

Mayock: Draft offer depth but few 'difference makers'

As you saw in the list of players that have been invited to the coming NFL Combine, there are dozens of juniors and they are responsible for making this draft class deep.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock agrees that is exactly what teams are likely to see out of this draft: Depth.

"Because of the juniors, we probably have better depth than in last 10 years," Mayock said today on a national conference call.

But ...

While that will create more value for later-round picks -- remember the Dolphins have two picks in the second round and two in the third - Mayock doesn't see stardom at the top of the draft.

"The top 10 picks, I don't see difference makers," Mayock said.

He went on to say that he sees the fifth pick and the 25th pick as having similar talent.

Wouldn't you know it? The Dolphins, a team that has plenty of solid players but few difference makers, are looking for that thing that Mayock says the top of the draft lacks. And with the No. 12 overall selection, the Dolphins are in that area where Mayock says difference makers are not evident.

The Dolphins need help at cornerback, wide receiver, defensive end and tight end. Yes, it would be good to add a pass-rusher to start opposite Cameron  Wake, but Mayock isn't sold on the players most gurus have atop that group.

"I don't think Bjoern Werner or Damontre Moore are top 10 players," he said.

The Dolphins need a running back, you say?

Mayock has only one -- Alabama's Eddie Lacy -- graded for the first round.

Mel Kiper has the Dolphins picking Tennessee wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson in the first round. Mayock likes him, too. He gives him a first-round grade, one of only two wide receivers he gives first-round grades to.

"You put hut him on tape, and he’s going to take your breath away. He’s a special talent," Mayock said. But then Mayock also adds Patterson comes with major upside but major risk as well due to his inexperience.

Mayock likes an offensive lineman for the Dolphins at No. 12. He says he has six offensive tackles with first round grades.

Meanwhile, Mayock said he sees Alabama OG Chance Warmack as the best player he's studied on tape this year.

And the former special teams player and safety called this year's safety class "one of the best safety classes in years."

Mayock only has one cornerback -- Alabama's Dee Milliner -- graded for the first round.

So what does all this mean?

I'd say that if a majority of teams share Mayock's opinion about the top of the round, it will be very difficult for teams at that height to trade down. And it would be easier and less expensive for teams wanting to get up there to trade up.

The lack of cornerback talent high in the draft is also good for pending Dolphins free agent Sean Smith and the multitude of free agent corners about to hit the market.

 

NFL Combine this week -- the invitees (with video)

The NFL Combine begins Wednesday and 331 athletes have been invited to attend the annual meat market.

The Combine will run until Feb. 26 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Take a look at the list. It is obvious this will be a defense-intense draft. The offensive talent is limited and nothing like last year, for example. Part of that is due to the fact no obvious great quarterbacks or wide receivers are on the list.

Tight ends in the first round are also hard to find. Everyone is suggesting Stanford's Zach Ertz and Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert are apparently the highest graded by the draft gurus such as Kiper, Mayock and others.

But to me, neither are worthy of a No. 12 overall pick. That is undeniable. Don't get me wrong, Ertz, who I like more than Eifert, has some skills and was actually used a lot as a slot receiver at Stanford. He has good hands. He is obviously a very aware player. But he's not a great blocker, even downfield. And he's not exactly fast.

I do believe he'd be an upgrade over what the Dolphins have. But he doesn't remind of Rob Gronkowski.

Look for yourself and then check out the list:

And now, the list. Some of these guys are future Miami Dolphins:

2013 Official Invite List

Jr Player School Camp # Position
  ABOUSHI, ODAY VIRGINIA OL01 OL
  ADAMS, JOHNNY MICHIGAN ST DB01 DB
  ALFORD, ROBERT SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA DB02 DB
* ALLEN, KEENAN CALIFORNIA WO01 WO
  ALLEN, RYAN LOUISIANA TECH PK01 PK
  ALLEN, ZACH NORTH CAROLINA ST OL02 OL
  ALONSO, KIKO OREGON LB01 LB
* AMERSON, DAVID NORTH CAROLINA ST DB03 DB
  ANDERSON, C J CALIFORNIA RB01 RB
  ANSAH, ZIGGY BRIGHAM YOUNG DL01 DL
  ANTHONY, MARC CALIFORNIA DB04 DB
  ARMSTEAD, TERRON ARKANSAS-PINEBLUFF OL03 OL
  AUSTIN, TAVON WEST VIRGINIA WO02 WO
  BACA, JEFF UCLA OL04 OL
* BAILEY, ALVIN ARKANSAS OL05 OL
* BAILEY, STEDMAN WEST VIRGINIA WO03 WO
* BAKHTIARI, DAVID COLORADO OL06 OL
  BALL, MONTEE WISCONSIN RB02 RB
  BANKS, JOHNTHAN MISSISSIPPI ST DB05 DB
  BARKER, CHRIS NEVADA OL07 OL
  BARKLEY, MATT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA QB01 QB
  BARNER, KENJON OREGON RB03 RB
  BARNES, T J GEORGIA TECH DL02 DL
  BARRINGTON, SAM SOUTH FLORIDA LB02 LB
  BASS, DAVID MISSOURI WESTERN ST DL03 DL
  BEAUHARNAIS, STEVE RUTGERS LB03 LB
  BECTON, NICK VIRGINIA TECH OL08 OL
* BELL, LE’VEON MICHIGAN ST RB04 RB
* BERNARD, GIOVANI NORTH CAROLINA RB05 RB
  BOHANON, TOMMY WAKE FOREST RB06 RB
  BOND, TRAVIS NORTH CAROLINA OL09 OL
  BONNER, ALAN JACKSONVILLE ST-AL WO04 WO
  BOREN, ZACH OHIO ST RB07 RB
  BOSTIC, JONATHAN FLORIDA LB04 LB
  BOYCE, JOSH TEXAS  CHRISTIAN WO05 WO
  BOYD, JOSH MISSISSIPPI ST DL04 DL
  BOYETT, JOHN OREGON DB06 DB
* BRAY, TYLER TENNESSEE QB02 QB
  BREEDING, DYLAN ARKANSAS PK02 PK
  BROWN, ARTHUR KANSAS ST LB05 LB
  BROWN, BRADEN BRIGHAM YOUNG OL10 OL
  BROWN, MARLON GEORGIA WO06 WO
  BRYANT, ARMONTY EAST CENTRAL DL05 DL
  BUCHANAN, MIKE ILLINOIS DL06 DL
  BURKHEAD, REX NEBRASKA RB08 RB
  BUSHELL, ADRIAN LOUISVILLE DB07 DB
  CAMERON, COLBY LOUISIANA TECH QB03 QB
  CANTELE, ANTHONY KANSAS ST PK03 PK
  CARRADINE, TANK FLORIDA ST DL07 DL
  CAVE, BRAXSTON NOTRE DAME OL11 OL
  CLEARY, EMMETT BOSTON COL OL12 OL
  COLLINS, JAMIE SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI LB06 LB
  COMMINGS, SANDERS GEORGIA DB08 DB
  COOPER, JONATHAN NORTH CAROLINA OL13 OL
  COWAN, BOBBY IDAHO PK04 PK
  CUNNINGHAM, JUSTICE SOUTH CAROLINA TE01 TE
  CYPRIEN, JOHNATHAN FLORIDA INT DB09 DB
* DAVIS, KNILE ARKANSAS RB09 RB
  DAVIS, MARCUS VIRGINIA TECH WO07 WO
  DAVIS, WILL UTAH ST DB10 DB
  DAWKINS, EVERETT FLORIDA ST DL08 DL
  DEVEY, JORDAN MEMPHIS OL14 OL
  DIAL, QUINTON ALABAMA DL09 DL
  DOBSON, AARON MARSHALL WO08 WO
  DUNNACHIE, ALEX HAWAII PK05 PK
  DYSERT, ZAC MIAMI-OH QB04 QB
  EDWARDS, LAVAR LOUISIANA ST DL10 DL
* EDWARDS, MIKE HAWAII DB11 DB
  EIFERT, TYLER NOTRE DAME TE02 TE
* ELAM, MATT FLORIDA DB12 DB
  ELLINGTON, ANDRE CLEMSON RB10 RB
* ERTZ, ZACH STANFORD TE03 TE
* ESCOBAR, GAVIN SAN DIEGO ST TE04 TE
  EVANS, JOSH FLORIDA DB13 DB
* FAULK, CHRIS LOUISIANA ST OL15 OL
  FAURIA, JOSEPH UCLA TE05 TE
  FISHER, ERIC CENTRAL MICHIGAN OL16 OL
* FLOYD, SHARRIF FLORIDA DL11 DL
  FLUKER, D J ALABAMA OL17 OL
  FOKETI, MANASE WEST TEXAS A&M OL18 OL
* FORD, MICHAEL LOUISIANA ST RB11 RB
  FRAGEL, REID OHIO ST OL19 OL
  FRANKLIN, JOHNATHAN UCLA RB12 RB
* FREDERICK, TRAVIS WISCONSIN OL20 OL
  FULLER, COREY VIRGINIA TECH WO09 WO
  FURSTENBURG, MATT MARYLAND TE06 TE
  GAINES, ROGERS TENNESSEE ST OL21 OL
* GEATHERS, KWAME GEORGIA DL12 DL
* GHOLSTON, WILLIAM MICHIGAN ST DL13 DL
  GILKEY, GARRETT CHADRON ST OL22 OL
  GILLISLEE, MIKE FLORIDA RB13 RB
  GLENNON, MIKE NORTH CAROLINA ST QB05 QB
  GOARD, TYRONE EASTERN KENTUCKY WO10 WO
  GOODEN, ZAVIAR MISSOURI LB07 LB
  GOODMAN, MALLICIAH CLEMSON DL14 DL
  GOODWIN, MARQUISE TEXAS WO11 WO
  GRAGG, CHRIS ARKANSAS TE07 TE
  GRAHAM, RAY PITTSBURGH RB14 RB
  GRATZ, DWAYNE CONNECTICUT DB14 DB
  GRAY, MARQUEIS MINNESOTA QB06 QB
  GREENE, KHASEEM RUTGERS LB08 LB
  GRISSOM, CORY SOUTH FLORIDA DL15 DL
  HAMILTON, COBI ARKANSAS WO12 WO
* HANKINS, JOHNATHAN OHIO ST DL16 DL
  HARPER, CHRIS KANSAS ST WO13 WO
  HARPER, D J BOISE ST RB15 RB
  HARRIS, MONTEL TEMPLE RB16 RB
  HARRISON, MARK RUTGERS WO14 WO
  HAWKINSON, TANNER KANSAS OL23 OL
  HAWTHORNE, TERRY ILLINOIS DB15 DB
  HAYDEN, D J HOUSTON DB16 DB
  HEPBURN, BRANDON FLORIDA A&M LB09 LB
  HERMAN, ERIC OHIO OL24 OL
  HESTER, AARON UCLA DB17 DB
  HILL, JORDAN PENN ST DL17 DL
  HODGES, GERALD PENN ST LB10 LB
  HOLLOMAN, DEVONTE SOUTH CAROLINA LB11 LB
  HOLMES, KHALED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OL25 OL
* HOPKINS, DEANDRE CLEMSON WO15 WO
  HOPKINS, DUSTIN FLORIDA ST PK06 PK
  HUBNER, JOSH ARIZONA ST PK07 PK
  HUGHES, MONTORI TENNESSEE-MARTIN DL18 DL
  HUNT, MARGUS SMU DL19 DL
* HUNTER, JUSTIN TENNESSEE WO16 WO
  HYDE, MICAH IOWA DB18 DB
  INGRAM, LUKE HAWAII ST01 ST
  JACKSON, MARK GLENVILLE ST OL26 OL
  JAMES, MIKE MIAMI-FL RB17 RB
* JAMISON, JAWAN RUTGERS RB18 RB
  JEFFERSON, D C RUTGERS TE08 TE
* JEFFERSON, STEFPHON NEVADA RB19 RB
* JEFFERSON, TONY OKLAHOMA DB19 DB
  JENKINS, BRANDON FLORIDA ST DL20 DL
* JENKINS, JELANI FLORIDA LB12 LB
  JENKINS, JOHN GEORGIA DL21 DL
* JOECKEL, LUKE TEXAS A&M OL27 OL
  JOHNSON, T J SOUTH CAROLINA OL28 OL
  JOHNSON, DARIUS SMU WO17 WO
  JOHNSON, LANE OKLAHOMA OL29 OL
  JOHNSON, JAY JAY PURDUE DB20 DB
  JOHNSON, KEELAN ARIZONA ST DB21 DB
  JOHNSON, NICO ALABAMA LB13 LB
  JOHNSON, OSCAR LOUISIANA TECH OL30 OL
  JOHNSON-WEBB, JAMAAL ALABAMA A&M OL31 OL
  JONES, ABRY GEORGIA DL22 DL
  JONES, BARRETT ALABAMA OL32 OL
  JONES, CHRIS BOWLING GREEN DL23 DL
  JONES, DATONE UCLA DL24 DL
* JONES, JARVIS GEORGIA LB14 LB
  JONES, LANDRY OKLAHOMA QB07 QB
  JORDAN, DION OREGON DL25 DL
  KASA, NICK COLORADO TE09 TE
* KAUFMAN, BRANDON EASTERN WASHINGTON WO18 WO
  KELCE, TRAVIS CINCINNATI TE10 TE
  KING, TAVARRES GEORGIA WO19 WO
  KLEIN, A J IOWA ST LB15 LB
  KLEIN, COLLIN KANSAS ST QB08 QB
  KNOTT, JAKE IOWA ST LB16 LB
  KOVANDA, SCOTT BALL ST PK08 PK
* KRUGER, JOE UTAH DL26 DL
  KUGBILA, EDMUND VALDOSTA ST OL33 OL
* LACY, EDDIE ALABAMA RB20 RB
* LATTIMORE, MARCUS SOUTH CAROLINA RB21 RB
  LEMON, ALEC SYRACUSE WO20 WO
* LEMONIER, COREY AUBURN DL27 DL
  LESTER, ROBERT ALABAMA DB22 DB
  LEWIS-MOORE, KAPRON NOTRE DAME DL28 DL
  LINE, ZACH SMU RB22 RB
  LOCKE, JEFF UCLA PK09 PK
* LOGAN, BENNIE LOUISIANA ST DL29 DL
  LONERGAN, P J LOUISIANA ST OL34 OL
  LONG, KYLE OREGON OL35 OL
  LOTULELEI, JOHN UNLV LB17 LB
  LOTULELEI, STAR UTAH DL30 DL
  LUTZENKIRCHEN, PHILIP AUBURN TE11 TE
  MADSEN, JOE WEST VIRGINIA OL36 OL
  MADY, LAMAR YOUNGSTOWN OL37 OL
  MAGEE, BRANDON ARIZONA ST LB18 LB
  MAHER, BRETT NEBRASKA PK10 PK
  MANUEL, E J FLORIDA ST QB09 QB
* MAPONGA, STANSLY TEXAS CHRISTIAN DL31 DL
  MARQUARDT, LUKE AZUSA PACIFIC OL38 OL
* MATHIEU, TYRANN LOUISIANA ST DB23 DB
  MAUTI, MICHAEL PENN ST LB19 LB
  MAYSONET, MIGUEL STONY BROOK RB23 RB
  MCCALEBB, ONTERIO AUBURN RB24 RB
  MCCRAY, DEMETRIUS APPALACHIAN ST DB24 DB
  MCCRAY, LERENTEE FLORIDA LB20 LB
  MCDONALD, T J SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA DB25 DB
  MCDONALD, VANCE RICE TE12 TE
  MCDOUGALD, BRADLEY KANSAS DB26 DB
  MCFADDEN, LEON SAN DIEGO ST DB27 DB
  MCGEE, BRANDON MIAMI-FL DB28 DB
  MCGEE, STACY OKLAHOMA DL32 DL
  MELLETTE, AARON ELON WO21 WO
  MICHAEL, CHRISTINE TEXAS A&M RB25 RB
  MILES, RONTEZ CAL U-PENN DB29 DB
  MILHIM, STEPHANE MASSACHUSETTS-AMHERST OL39 OL
* MILLINER, DEE ALABAMA DB30 DB
  MILLS, JORDAN LOUISIANA TECH OL40 OL
* MINGO, BARKEVIOUS LOUISIANA ST DL33 DL
* MINTER, KEVIN LOUISIANA ST LB21 LB
  MOE, T J MISSOURI WO22 WO
* MONTGOMERY, SAM LOUISIANA ST DL34 DL
  MOODY, NICK FLORIDA ST LB22 LB
* MOORE, DAMONTRE TEXAS A&M DL35 DL
  MOORE, SIO CONNECTICUT LB23 LB
  MOTTA, ZEKE NOTRE DAME DB31 DB
  NASSIB, RYAN SYRACUSE QB10 QB
  NIXON, XAVIER FLORIDA OL41 OL
* OGLETREE, ALEC GEORGIA LB24 LB
  OKAFOR, ALEX TEXAS DL36 DL
  OTTEN, RYAN SAN JOSE ST TE13 TE
  PAINTER, VINCE VIRGINIA TECH OL42 OL
  PANTALE, CHRIS BOSTON COL TE14 TE
* PATTERSON, CORDARRELLE TENNESSEE WO24 WO
  PATTON, QUINTON LOUISIANA TECH WO25 WO
  PORTER, SEAN TEXAS A&M LB25 LB
  POUGH, KEITH HOWARD LB26 LB
  POWELL, TY HARDING DL37 DL
  POYER, JORDAN OREGON ST DB32 DB
  PRYOR, LONNIE FLORIDA ST RB26 RB
  PUGH, JUSTIN SYRACUSE OL43 OL
  QUESSENBERRY, DAVID SAN JOSE ST OL44 OL
  RAMBO, BACARRI GEORGIA DB33 DB
* RANDLE, JOSEPH OKLAHOMA ST RB27 RB
  REDDICK, KEVIN NORTH CAROLINA LB27 LB
* REED, JORDAN FLORIDA TE15 TE
* REID, ERIC LOUISIANA ST DB34 DB
* REID, GREG FLORIDA ST DB35 DB
  RENFREE, SEAN DUKE QB11 QB
* RHODES, XAVIER FLORIDA ST DB36 DB
* RICHARDSON, SHELDON MISSOURI DL38 DL
  RIDDICK, THEO NOTRE DAME RB28 RB
  RIVERA, MYCHAL TENNESSEE TE16 TE
* ROBEY, NICKELL SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA DB37 DB
  ROBINSON, DENARD MICHIGAN WO26 WO
* ROGERS, DA’RICK TENNESSEE TECH WO27 WO
  ROUSE, ROBBIE FRESNO ST RB29 RB
* RYAN, LOGAN RUTGERS DB38 DB
  SABINO, ETIENNE OHIO ST LB28 LB
  SAMPSON, LANEAR BAYLOR WO28 WO
* SANDERS, ACE SOUTH CAROLINA WO29 WO
  SCHWENKE, BRIAN CALIFORNIA OL45 OL
  SCOTT, MATT ARIZONA QB12 QB
  SHARP, QUINN OKLAHOMA ST PK11 PK
  SHORT, K K PURDUE DL39 DL
  SIMON, JOHN OHIO ST DL40 DL
* SIMON, THAROLD LOUISIANA ST DB39 DB
* SIMS, DION MICHIGAN ST TE17 TE
  SLAUGHTER, JAMORIS NOTRE DAME DB40 DB
  SLAY, DARIUS MISSISSIPPI ST DB41 DB
  SMITH, GENO WEST VIRGINIA QB13 QB
  SMITH, JARED NEW HAMPSHIRE DL41 DL
  SMITH, QUANTERUS WESTERN KENTUCKY DL42 DL
  SMITH, RODNEY FLORIDA ST WO30 WO
  SORENSEN, BRAD SOUTHERN UTAH QB14 QB
  SPADOLA, RYAN LEHIGH WO31 WO
* SPENCE, AKEEM ILLINOIS DL43 DL
  SQUARE, DAMION ALABAMA DL44 DL
  STACY, ZAC VANDERBILT RB30 RB
  STAFFORD, DAIMION NEBRASKA DB42 DB
  STANKIEWITCH, MATT PENN ST OL46 OL
  STARLING, JAWANZA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA DB43 DB
  STEWART, JONATHAN TEXAS A&M LB29 LB
  STEWART, WALT CINCINNATI DL45 DL
* STILLS, KENNY OKLAHOMA WO32 WO
  STONEBURNER, JAKE OHIO ST TE18 TE
  STURGIS, CALEB FLORIDA PK12 PK
  SWANSON, DAXTON SAM HOUSTON ST DB44 DB
  SWEARINGER, D J SOUTH CAROLINA DB45 DB
  SWEETING, ROD GEORGIA TECH DB46 DB
  SWOPE, RYAN TEXAS A&M WO33 WO
  TAYLOR, BRUCE VIRGINIA TECH LB30 LB
  TAYLOR, DEVIN SOUTH CAROLINA DL46 DL
  TAYLOR, JAMAR BOISE ST DB47 DB
  TAYLOR, MIKE WISCONSIN LB31 LB
  TAYLOR, STEPFA'N STANFORD RB31 RB
  TE'O, MANTI NOTRE DAME LB32 LB
  THOMAS, DALLAS TENNESSEE OL47 OL
  THOMAS, CHASE STANFORD LB33 LB
  THOMAS, PHILLIP FRESNO ST DB48 DB
  THOMAS, SHAMARKO SYRACUSE DB49 DB
  THOMPKINS, KENBRELL CINCINNATI WO34 WO
  THOMPSON, CHRISTOPHER FLORIDA ST RB32 RB
  THORNTON, HUGH ILLINOIS OL48 OL
* TOILOLO, LEVINE STANFORD TE19 TE
  TRETTER, J C CORNELL-NY OL49 OL
  TRUFANT, DESMOND WASHINGTON DB50 DB
  TUCKER, MATTHEW TEXAS CHRISTIAN RB33 RB
  VACCARO, KENNY TEXAS DB51 DB
  VANDENBERG, JAMES IOWA QB15 QB
  VERNON, CONNER DUKE WO35 WO
  WAGNER, RICKY WISCONSIN OL50 OL
* WARE, SPENCER LOUISIANA ST RB34 RB
  WARFORD, LARRY KENTUCKY OL51 OL
  WARMACK, CHANCE ALABAMA OL52 OL
  WASHINGTON, CORNELIUS GEORGIA LB34 LB
  WATFORD, EARL JAMES MADISON OL53 OL
* WATSON, MENELIK FLORIDA ST OL54 OL
  WEAVER, JASON SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI OL55 OL
  WEBB, B W WILLIAM & MARY DB52 DB
  WEBSTER, KAYVON SOUTH FLORIDA DB53 DB
* WERNER, BJOERN FLORIDA ST DL47 DL
  WETZEL, JOHN BOSTON COL OL56 OL
  WHEATON, MARKUS OREGON ST WO36 WO
  WILCOX, J J GEORGIA SOUTHERN DB54 DB
  WILLIAMS, BRANDON MISSOURI SOUTHERN ST DL48 DL
  WILLIAMS, BRENNAN NORTH CAROLINA OL57 OL
  WILLIAMS, JESSE ALABAMA DL49 DL
  WILLIAMS, KERWYNN UTAH ST RB35 RB
  WILLIAMS, DUKE NEVADA DB55 DB
  WILLIAMS, NATE OHIO ST DL50 DL
  WILLIAMS, NICK SAMFORD DL51 DL
  WILLIAMS, SHAWN GEORGIA DB56 DB
* WILLIAMS, STEVE CALIFORNIA DB57 DB
  WILLIAMS, SYLVESTER NORTH CAROLINA DL52 DL
  WILLIAMS, TERRANCE BAYLOR WO37 WO
  WILLIAMS, TOUREK FLORIDA INT DL53 DL
  WILLIAMS, TREVARDO CONNECTICUT DL54 DL
  WILSON, BRADEN KANSAS ST RB36 RB
  WILSON, TYLER ARKANSAS QB16 QB
* WILSON, MARQUESS WASHINGTON ST WO38 WO
* WING, BRAD LOUISIANA ST PK13 PK
  WINN, GEORGE CINCINNATI RB37 RB
  WINTERS, BRIAN KENT ST OL58 OL
  WOLFF, EARL NORTH CAROLINA ST DB58 DB
* WOOD, CIERRE NOTRE DAME RB38 RB
* WOODS, ROBERT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WO39 WO
  WOOTEN, KHALID NEVADA DB59 DB
* WORT, TOM OKLAHOMA LB35 LB
  WREH-WILSON, BLIDI CONNECTICUT DB60 DB

February 15, 2013

Live blog chat here at 2 p.m.

There's plenty to talk about the Dolphins as they prepare for the Combine next week.

So this is a good time for a live chat.

I'll be here at 2 p.m. and if you are here, we can discuss the team. If you cannot be here then, leave your questions or comments now and I'll address them. You can check back later to see my response to your comment.

Topics on the table:

All free agency -- Miami's own and those about to be cut loose by other teams.

The draft. Who fits. Who doesn't. Miami's needs.

Anything else that comes to your mind.

Before anyone asks: The team has said the new logo will be unveiled in April. So that's out of the way.